Full-service restaurants are responsible for providing a comfortable restaurant atmosphere, delivering excellent customer service, and most importantly, maintaining the safety of food, which directly affects the wellbeing of your customers.
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Foodborne illnesses and failed food safety inspections are two things you definitely don’t want your business associated with. It’s an easy recipe for disaster—financially and to your establishment’s reputation in the community and the food industry.
Food safety sits at the core of the food retail industry’s values. Food safety turns into a major issue for your restaurant when a food safety breach happens because not only do your customers get sick, they lose confidence in your business and its ability to uphold the industry’s food safety standards.
Don’t fear food safety or what it takes to achieve it. Be in control of food safety by implementing an effective food safety management system (FSMS) in your business.
What is a FSMS?
A FSMS is a network of components working together to ensure that food doesn’t cause any unfavorable human health effects. Some common components include programs, policies, roles and responsibilities, resources, and goals. It’s encouraged that restaurants be proactive and put a FSMS in place to prevent and reduce the occurrence of foodborne illness risk factors.
According to the FDA, an effective FSMS could include the following elements:
- Certified food protection managers who have shown a proficiency in required information by passing a test that is part of an accredited program;
- Standard operating procedures for performing critical operational steps in a food preparation process, such as cooling;
- Recipe cards that contain the specific steps for preparing a food item and the food safety critical limits, such as final cooking temperatures, that need to be monitored and verified;
- Purchase specifications;
- Equipment and facility design and maintenance;
- Monitoring procedures;
- Employee health policy for restricting or excluding ill employees;
- Manager and employee training;
- On-going quality control and assurance; and
- Specific goal-oriented plans, like Risk Control Plans, that outline procedures for controlling foodborne illness risk factors.
The FDA also recommends food establishments implementing a FSMS that’s based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles. Doing so, your system would include most of the abovementioned components and provide a complete outline for restaurant operators and managers to better control and eliminate foodborne illness risk factors.
There are numerous benefits to investing in a FSMS. Food safety inspections are sporadic, but when you implement this kind of system, you experience continuous prevention of foodborne illness and related food safety disasters, problem solving, and food safety compliance. It also encourages more effective communication and collaboration among your employees, with stakeholders and with industry regulators. It’s a time saver and a profit increaser.
Other advantages you’ll receive include:
- Improved inventory control;
- Reduction in product loss;
- More consistency in product preparation;
- Rise in product quality; and
- Increased employee understanding and involvement in food safety.
Tips for Success
Like its advantages, there are several different factors that contribute to a successful FSMS.
Besides being based on HACCP principles, your system should be pooled with basic sanitation standards for employees, i.e. good personal hygiene, and food storage and preparation. You should also provide an employee training program to provide your employees basic food safety knowledge, go over the importance and benefits of your FSMS and your brand food safety standards, and properly train managers and employees in their respective roles and responsibilities with food safety.
Another key part for successful implementation is maintaining accurate documentation of its activities. Keep detailed records of corrective actions taken, verification and validation records, calibration records and monitoring records. Maintaining these records will help ensure quality food safety.